(CNN)The conviction of Derek Chauvin showed George Floyd’s life really did matter to a justice system on trial.
Now, millions of Americans wait to see whether a moment of rare hope will spur political leaders to deliver similar justice by reforming policing and eradicating systemic racism.
A jury of 12 Minnesotans did more than convict ex-policeman Chauvin Tuesday on all counts of murdering Floyd by squeezing the life out of him with a knee to the neck. In a profound moment of modern American history, they offered a measure of optimism that Americans of all races will one day be treated equally and that maligned police officers can be held accountable to the laws they are meant to enforce.
The verdict will not bring Floyd back from an unnecessary death. Nor will it erase the millions of injustices faced by Black Americans not recorded on cellphone video, or the Black community’s dread during encounters with police. Proof of that came in police shootings and harassment of Black Americans as the trial went on, in situations that might not have ended so tragically for Whites.
But the moment when Chauvin was led to a jail cell, hands cuffed behind his back, triggered relief and, in places, disbelief. It validated a social and political movement, championed by celebrities and athletes, that spanned the globe after Floyd’s murder last May that sent citizens of all ethnicities into the streets during a pandemic to demand justice.
“This is monumental, this is historic. This is a pivotal moment in history,” Floyd’s brother Philonese told CNN’s Sara Sidner.